Epic Games And Apple's Courtroom Battle Will Continue Into 2021
The courtroom battle between Apple and Epic Games continues this week, as the two companies continue to duke it out legally. After Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with Apple in the numerous hearings over the past few months, Epic Games requested a jury trial.
This request was denied, but only due to coronavirus concerns and potential scheduling conflicts with other court cases. A jury trial would not be possible until the end of the summer in 2021, and even then, the current pandemic could still deem the trial an impossibility. Instead, bench trial, meaning a trial with only a judge, will occur in California on May 3, 2021, at 8:30 a.m.
Considering the factors of whether or not the trial would be in person or virtual, it makes sense that the court declined the jury hearing. This, however, might end up harming Epic Games, as it seems the courts are in favour of Apple. Epic Games seems optimistic despite this opposition, especially considering their Coalition for App Fairness is getting a lot of traction.
The Coalition now includes Epic Games, Basecamp, Blockchain, Spotify, and Protonmail, among many others. The fact that all of these companies have joined forces over Apple's app store monopoly is extremely uplifting to developers. Even if Epic Games loses to Apple in the courtroom, public opinion shows that they have won the hearts of consumers. If the court case were to end with a settlement or a loss, then the game industry itself might have a movement on its hands, as many developers are rooting for Epic.
Game companies are taking notice as well. Recently, Microsoft announced its support for Epic Games, pledging to make its own app store fairer for consumers and developers alike. The tech giant recently published a statement regarding its policies, which is titled the "10 Principles for the Microsoft Store on Windows."
These points do not directly quote or mention either Epic Games or Apple; however, readers can clearly tell they were inspired by the court case. What is mentioned, however, is the company's decision to stand with the Coalition of App Fairness, which is written in the introduction for the Microsoft Store's new rules.
It reads as follows: "We recognise that we should practice what we preach. So, today, we are adopting 10 principles—building on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF)—to promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation on Windows 10, our most popular platform, and our own Microsoft Store on Windows 10."
With Microsoft now siding with Epic in the ongoing court case, many are wondering what other companies will give their support in the coming months. The Coalition for App Fairness is only growing, and Epic Games only continues to spread the message of the "30% Apple Tax" via social media and its #FreeFortnite campaign.
Apple isn't going unopposed, however. For every statement Epic Games makes about Apple, there are a handful of dismissive responses Apple posts, negating Epic's claims. However, the company might no longer have a leg to stand on over Epic, as the House of Representatives Committee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has released an exhaustive report of monopolies within American tech companies. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple are all under scrutiny in this report, which lists the very many ways that each company stifles their competition.
The report had the following to say about Apple: "in the absence of competition, Apple’s monopoly power over software distribution to iOS devices has resulted in harms to competitors and competition, reducing quality and innovation among app developers, and increasing prices and reducing choices for consumers."
Given that the trial has been pushed to 2021, Epic might use this recently-published report as evidence for the case against Apple. Given that the report details each tech company's control over the market, the judge will not be able to show unwavering bias for Apple, as that could be deemed as unjust. Epic Games can only hope that the judge in this upcoming trial will be different than the one overseeing their past hearings. A more neutral judge might mean that both companies will be able to speak, allowing the court to come to a fair conclusion.
Developers and gamers alike will have to wait for May 3 with bated breath. Until then, the trial is essentially on hold. Besides written statements that both companies and their legal representation must produce by February of 2021, there is not much else that Epic can do legally. That won't stop Epic Games from continuing to make massive headway with their Coalition for App Fairness and #FreeFortnite campaign. Game developers can expect massive changes in the game industry in the coming years, changes that will help Epic and companies like it flourish in the market, even if the court continues to rule in favour of Apple.
Images via Epic Games